Lawsuits are full of procedural requirements to make sure that both sides get a fair hearing, and divorce suits are no different. One of these procedural requirements is known as “service of process.” This is a step that happens early in the suit and is designed to alert the other party to the fact that they are now involved in a lawsuit. It involves delivering the other party a copy of the court filing that started the case, along with a summons to appear in court.
This is, naturally, a necessary step in any legal proceeding because the other side needs to be aware that it is happening for them to come in and tell their side of the story. However, this part of the process is also rife with opportunities for abuse. There are some parties who attempt to avoid service by dodging the person sent to deliver the papers in an effort to delay the start of the case indefinitely. While the law does have a variety of tools to combat that sort of behavior, a New York family law judge just added another one that is perfect for the 21st Century
What Service of Process Looks Like
Under Illinois law, people have several different options for serving someone with their court papers. The most straightforward is called personal service. With this method, the person hires a professional process server and that person acts like a courier, hand-delivering the papers to the other party. The process server can also use something called substitute service, where they leave the papers at the person’s home with someone over the age of 13, and also mail a copy to the house. If both of these methods fail, then the serving party can get permission for service by publication, which is where notice of the suit is placed into a newspaper.
The New York Case
The case in New York related to a wife who was avoiding service because the husband wanted to complete the termination of his child support since the child had turned 18. She left no forwarding address and the husband could not track her down despite diligent efforts. While this would be cause for service by publication in Illinois, that method seemed outdated to the New York judge. The judge granted the husband permission to serve his wife over social media, since he knew that she was active on Facebook. While this is the first time any judge has granted permission to serve someone still in the country via Facebook, it may signal a coming shift in the future that would make litigation easier.
If you are considering filing for divorce and would like to know more about how the process works, contact a dedicated DuPage County family law attorney today. Our firm’s experienced professionals are here to help answer your questions.